Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Simple Answer for A NEW YEAR!

You barely need to scratch the surface of the “self-help” section before you are assaulted by endless publications to help you find “your calling.”   We are all in pursuit of our calling, our mission.  Why are we here on the third rock from the sun?  What is that thing that is going to make our existence significant?

At the New Year most of us set out on an analysis of our life.  What do I want to change?  What’s working?  What’s not working?  Wouldn’t my life be perfect if I could lose 20 pounds?   That new job is going to be the thing that brings me satisfaction.  If I can find the man/woman of my dreams that would be the ticket.  The resolutions come fast and furious.

Why is it that we never see ourselves as complete?  Are we not children of a loving God?  Are we not perfectly made?  Why can’t we trust that our Heavenly Father knows our mission and will allow us to complete it to his specifications and not ours? 

I certainly don’t have the answer to this question.  Like most of you reading these words I question the reason for my existence daily.  How can I matter?  Do I even matter?  Is this all there is? 

Having been blessed with the opportunity to work and talk to seniors on almost a daily basis I went on a mission to ask my dear senior friends, “What if anything would you change about your life?”   The answers may or may not surprise you but they certainly gave me something to think about heading into the NEW YEAR.

Here is what they shared….

“I wish I’d traveled more, experienced more, risked more.”

 “Knowing what I know now…I wouldn’t have been so afraid.”  

 “I should have worked less and played more.”

 “It took me a long time to realize that possessions are not that important -the real value is in people and relationships.” 

“I wish I had realized sooner to take more JOY in the simple things.”

“I should have been kinder, more forgiving.” 

“Why did I hold a grudge?  There was no value in it.”

 “All my life I’ve been too quick to judge.”

                                             And what did I hear most of all?

I wish I had said I love you more often.”  

Could it be the “why are we here” question is quite simple?  Maybe we are here to experiment, try new things, have new experiences, to take a risk, and to make mistakes.   It’s possible we are all just in prep school with the ultimate goal being to be better today than we were yesterday.

As the NEW YEAR peaks over the horizon I’m going to challenge myself to take the advice of these “older and wiser” folks.   I hope that you do too and if you have a senior in your life I hope you can carve out more valuable time to share with them in the coming year and pay close attention to their wise counsel.  I think you’ll find that they know “the secret.” 

 Life is precious, don’t waste a moment of it and we are here simply to love and be loved.

Happy New Year!  


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Boomer Finances Top Tips: Change, Innovate, Re-invent!

We’re the Baby Boom Generation.  Ever since we arrived on the scene, we’ve chased change and innovation.   We invented rock music, the computer age, and plunged headlong into difficult social issues from  civil rights to equality for women.  We’ve managed to crash through barriers and redefine our world.  Now here we stand on the threshold of senior status and once again we’re facing some significant challenges.

Corporations are downsizing, analyzing expenditures, and seeking survival during a weak recovery period.  We’re supposed to be in our highest earning years yet many of us are being reassigned, downsized and handed a pink slip. What happened to the golden years of retirement?

After the economic set back of 2008, some of us Baby Boomers are questioning whether we will even be able to retire.  Putting our kids through college and also caring for our aging parents has put us in a squeeze.   After college, Junior is moving back home into his old room and eating out of our fridge.  No wonder we’re just a little wacky.

A May 2013 Gallop Poll indicated that 3 out of 4 Americans believe they will be working PAST retirement age.  In the same poll it was indicated that the average retirement age in America is 62, the highest since the Gallop poll started measuring in 1992.
Starting with those born in 1960 and beyond the Social Security Retirement age with full benefits has been raised to 67 and will more than likely continue to rise. 

Many of us may have spent a lifetime feeling that we “are” our work and our paycheck, but were not the best at saving.  In some cases, planning for retirement was put on the back burner in an effort to “do” for our millennial kids.  Now the cold hard truth looms large - “Will I have enough money to last the rest of my life?” The fact may be that most Baby Boomers will have to work longer than expected – and at careers or just plain jobs that we never imagined.

So what’s a Boomer to do? 

1.    Evaluate your financial situation.  If you haven’t already done so schedule a consultation with a financial professional.  He or she can help you look at all your possible resources for income: employment, Social Security, pensions, securities and savings, property, insurance, and inheritance.  After a closer look you may find that you’re going to be OK!

2.   Discuss with your adviser the implications of “when” to start taking your Social Security.  Holding off can actually make your financial outlook better and mean more money in your pocket when you need it most.  Special Note:   Every year you wait to claim social security benefits until age 70 you will boost your annual payouts by 8%. Waiting until you're 70 will give you 32% more in benefits than if you took them at age 66 and you can receive 76% more than taking them at age 62. If you can afford to delay benefits until age 70 and if you live past age 82, you will receive more in lifetime income from Social Security than if you had waited until full retirement age.

3.  Take a good hard look at what you want from the next 30+ years. Whether you continue to work to enhance your current standard of living and retirement resources, or you decide to offer your experience and expertise as a volunteer, you are in a unique position to redefine what you will be doing.  Before you jump into something new, now is the time for self-assessment.  Understanding what motivates you and makes you happy is critical to your success.  This is your chance for a second act, and the chance to pursue long-held dreams. 

4.  Focus on what you have to offer.  Don’t marginalize your strengths.  Starting a new career or having been out of work or downsized can affect you physically, mentally and emotionally but you bring a lot to the table:  experience, stability, maturity, and a strong work ethic are just the beginning.

5.  Determine what you need.  Do you need additional credentials?  Should you go back to school?  Are you up to speed on technology? To be productive in an “encore career” or even in a volunteer capacity, you may need to beef up your skill set.

As Baby Boomers, we may also need to get in line for a reality check.  “Encore careers” are often not as lucrative as our previous career.  If you’re holding out for a similar job to the one where you made six figures, you may be in for a long wait.  The good news is that you may not really need to have the income you previously enjoyed.  Now that the kids are (hopefully) out of the house and many of your bigger expenditures are behind you, that part-time work, volunteer work, working with a non-profit, or mentoring opportunity may be just what the financial doctor ordered.  Some examples of growing career segments that are actively seeking more mature workers consist of education, healthcare, and retail.

So don’t despair Baby Boomer, we still have much to do and more to offer.  It’s once again time to chase change and innovate.

Best to you,

Should you have a story about how you've reinvented your career, found employment, reworked your finances or enhanced your skill set, please leave me a message in the comment section so we can all help each other!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


The radio stations are playing Christmas carols, the ABC Family Channel has put out their list of specials for the “25 Days of Christmas”, every retail store is decorated to the rafters and I say…….BRING IT ON!   I love the holidays.  Of course there is always that Ebenezer in the crowd who barks about how early they start the carols, and huff and puff about the tinsel but I’m not one of those folks.  I love everything about the holidays….the smells, the sounds, the sights, the food, the spirit of giving.  I’ll take it all. 

I believe life is about experiences, the kind of experiences that memories are made of.  Ask almost anyone and they will more than likely have a Christmas experience that holds a special place in their heart.  Our eyes light up, our hearts beat faster and we step back into a sweet place of magic when we think of our favorite holiday memories.

When I was a child my mother used to decorate our tree with ivory snow detergent.  Believe it or not if you whip that stuff up in a mixer it makes a gooey mixture that can be put onto your tree and when it dries it looks just like real snow!  Oh my goodness the smell is divine.  So as you can imagine whenever I smell Ivory Snow detergent – BOOM it’s Christmas.  That’s the magic.  It’s as simple as a smell or a sound and you go back in time.

We all have those magical triggers.  For my own children I think it’s probably my Christmas village. It just wasn’t the holidays until the village was in its proper place.  I knew this was part of my daughter’s Christmas treasure chest when I saw her explaining in great detail which figure was Tiny Tim and which one was Scrooge to her fiancĂ©.  Long after the X-box is obsolete, we’ve outgrown the lacrosse gear and the Little Tikes plastics are sold at the yard sale it will be the wonder of the season that will remain. 

Over the years whether spending time with my own family or in my professional life working with seniors, I’ve found that the traditions and memories we treasure find their roots in where we “come from.”  I can’t think of a better reason to find special and specific ways to include the seniors we love in our celebrations throughout the holidays. 

I remember reading the Christmas story on Christmas Eve and assigning each family member –my husband and me, my children, and most specifically my own parents each a passage to read as we lit the candles on the Advent wreath.  The joy that was created just hearing the different voices reading the story of Christ’s birth was astounding. My children still remember the words of their Grandfather as he read the last few verses of the Christmas story.  Luke 2:15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”  16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.  17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[d] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.  18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.  20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.” Just reading together as a family was such a simple thing to do but a memory that I will hold my whole lifetime.

So what is your treasure chest filled with?  Is it Grandma’s special Christmas cake recipe, a stocking you’ve had since childhood, lighting of the Advent wreath, or Christmas Eve service at midnight?  Ask yourself, “How can I include the seniors in my life in a specific and meaningful way?” After all the holidays aren’t just for children but for everyone.  Honoring your senior loved ones and including them will enrich your life for years to come. 

The good news is that holiday “magic” is there for the asking.  Contrary to what the circulars may say it isn’t “on sale” at Kohl’s.  (no offense Kohl’s)  The Christmas story- the birth of our Savior- IS the magic.  What could be more mystical and magical than that?  How we share the GOOD NEWS with one another is where memories are made.

So this holiday season I encourage you to take this GOOD NEWS and translate it into the magic of the season.  Treat your special food, decorating, carol singing, visits with friends, holiday movies, shopping trips, faith based rituals, and family traditions as the true Christmas gifts of the season.  Think of ways that you can enhance your traditions and make them even more meaningful by including that special senior in your life.  Deck the Halls – it’s the holidays!  Make them the merriest yet and decorate your heart with memories. (after all memories can last a lifetime and they aren’t even fattening)

Merry Christmas!